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Delfina Vega v. Michael J. Astrue

April 3, 2012

DELFINA VEGA, OBO J.G., A MINOR, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sheri Pym United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

I.

INTRODUCTION

On May 26, 2011 plaintiff Delfina Vega, as guardian ad litem on behalf of her minor son, J.G., filed a complaint against defendant Michael J. Astrue, seeking a review of a denial of childhood Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") benefits. Both plaintiff and defendant have consented to proceed for all purposes before the assigned Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). The court deems the matter suitable for adjudication without oral argument.

Plaintiff presents three disputed issues for decision: (1) whether the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") properly considered plaintiff's testimony and opinion; (2) whether the ALJ properly considered Exhibits 11F, 12F, and 13F; and (3) whether the ALJ should have considered a closed period of disability. Memorandum in Support of Plaintiff's Complaint ("Pl. Mem.") at 8; Memorandum in Support of Defendant's Answer ("D. Mem.") at 3-10.

Having carefully studied, inter alia, the parties' written submissions, the Administrative Record ("AR"), and the decision of the ALJ, the court concludes that, as detailed herein, the ALJ failed to state reasons germane to plaintiff for discounting her credibility, and therefore did not properly consider her testimony. In addition, the ALJ failed to properly consider Exhibits 11F and 12F in that he failed to obtain a medical expert's case evaluation based on the entire record. Therefore, the court remands this matter to the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration ("Commissioner") in accordance with the principles and instructions enunciated in this Memorandum Opinion and Order.

II.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

J.G., who was thirteen years old on the date of his July 28, 2009 administrative hearing, is a high school student. AR at 11, 22.

On October 22, 2007, plaintiff filed an application for SSI on behalf of J.G. due to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder ("ADHD"), alleging an onset date of September 1, 2004. AR at 8, 58. The Commissioner denied plaintiff's*fn1 application initially and upon reconsideration, after which she filed a request for a hearing. AR at 58-68.

On July 28, 2009, plaintiff and J.G., represented by counsel, appeared and testified at a hearing before the ALJ. AR at 22-37. On October 27, 2009, the ALJ denied plaintiff's claim for benefits. AR at 8-21.

Applying the three-step sequential evaluation process, the ALJ found, at*fn2 step one that J.G. did not engage in substantial gainful activity since October 22, 2007. AR at 11.

At step two, the ALJ found that J.G. suffered from the following severe impairment: ADHD. Id.

At step three, the ALJ found that J.G.'s impairment did not meet or medically equal one of the Listings. Id. The ALJ also determined that the impairment did not functionally equal any of the Listings, finding that J.G. had marked limitations in acquiring and using information (AR at 15-16), but less than ...


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